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Kafka And A Hungry Bird Give Thanks

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[Franz Kafka and his sister, Ottla.]

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the many diary entries Franz Kafka either did not make, or destroyed after the fact. He would have made no references to an actual ‘Thanksgiving Day’, but I feel this is close enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

30 September 1917

There was a knocking at the window this morning. A polite and concise rap rap rap. It awoke me while the room was barely light.

Who could want me so early? And then again, an insistent rap rap rap. I was confused, wondering where I was. The panic of Prague weighted down the covers, and I was sorry I had opened my eyes. The room, the smells – even the bed – was not familiar, so I was both bothered and assured by the strangeness.

When I realized I was not in Prague – for who could knock on my third floor window – I remembered I was in Zurau, where things were different. Here my window looked onto a yard, and anyone could  be at it. Was there something wrong? Was Ottla after my help? I even wondered, as I searched for my slippers, if her young man had somehow arranged leave from the army, and after much travail had managed to reach the wrong room. I could understand that very well.

I walked hesitantly over to the window, and cautiously pulled back the curtain. Such a commotion ensued that I stepped back in some fright. A bird flew immediately past the glass, its wings frantic as it screeched in agitation. It had been perched on my window ledge, pecking away at the frame. Ottla says it may have been after insects or grubs settled in for the winter.

“Insects in the walls of the house?” I asked.  “Yes.” She was quite matter-of-fact.  “It is a warm place for them during the cold months.”  I was not inclined to argue with the logic, but neither had I thought I would be existing in such close proximity with the tenants of nature.

Houses for warmth and bugs for food. It is a blend of the base and the subtle which I can appreciate. Much – I like to think – as does the annoyed bird.

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The Moose of October Get Hunted and Killed

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On a recent bus trip through the forests and hills and valleys, which offered kilometres of burgeoning Fall colours, and many other delightful distant scenes, this wee incident happened at a bus stop.

 

The bus went into a small village because a couple were getting off. The bus stop is in a parking lot of a Mall, beside a Tim Horton’s (I think).
Anyway, as the couple got off, a heavy-duty Ford pick-up drove in beside the bus. Attached to the truck was a a longish metal open-bed trailer. On the trailer was a deceased female moose. Perhaps it was too big to drape over the hood of the truck. This was a commonplace occurrence in the days of my youth. Or are those days long gone?

Buddy with the moose pulled up beside the Liquor Store.

Out he gets and walks with purpose into that fine establishment.

Intones the bus driver:

“There you have the perfect combination. A dead moose and a bottle of rum to celebrate.”

[Image] https://photos.travelblog.org/Photos/127380/421162/f/4082807-Female-Moose-Cow-0.jpg

Chow Down: Fake Food To Go (With Your Fake News)

 

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Please, Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it’s time to – please, if you don’t mind – it really is time to begin our – thank you, that’s much better – time for our meeting to start.

As you can see by looking around, this gathering is exclusively for Department Heads, and there will be no minutes taken. These projections are for your ears only.

Not only would we not wish another company to get them, but there is a chance the general public may become concerned, little realising the economics of our endeavours. A brief history of colours, dyes and artificial essences will give us a place to start. Run the strawberry jam, please.

As you can see, Ladies and Gentlemen, the colours on the slide are excellent. The rich red hue of the strawberries is exactly the colour you’ll find in the jar. We spent years developing that dye. Also, the years that went into getting the artificial taste and smell to adhere to the colour is something that most people would not imagine.

 Of course, even with our best efforts, there has always been a problem with that cloying, rather heavy sensation on the tongue. That has been offset by the addition of more sugar. We had complaints when the product was first introduced, but it appears these have now disappeared with new generations who know nothing different. People just accept that strawberries, strawberry ice cream, and strawberry jam all have their own tastes. Next slide, please.

Oh, yes, well, we’ll pass over this slide quickly. I just put that in to show you we finally managed to get rid of the strawberries altogether. As you can see on the close-up, the red glob is really made from compressed fibres – as one of our chemists said, more straw than berry. Even the seeds are produced and added with a gum mixture. We have found that bone meal seems to last best of all.

Now, this next lot we are very proud of. Bronson, these should be of particular interest to you, since they deal with our fast food chain.

The buns are made of very porous fibre, almost like real dough. and the brown colouring gives them a nice toasted look. The meat patty is still half real – we can’t seem to budge the government on that. Still, being able to advertise 100% all beef helps – as long as the fat, bone, guts etc that go into it all comes from a cow, we’re home free. Notice the use of the black lines of dye, to make it appear the meat has just come off the grill.

An interesting experiment has been done with some of our ever-thick milk shakes. We wanted to see how long the latex used to keep it together would hold up under the combined attacks of various strawberry, chocolate, etc. dyes, the fats and gums of the milk mixture, and the acids from the artificial flavours. You’ll be pleased to know that some of them still were thick after four months of refrigeration.

It is easy to see how latex based paints can last for so many years. We are now experimenting with making our french fries out of pulped wood chips. Texture, flavour and colour have all been overcome, but there still seems to be some unfortunate reactions to the hot fat.

[Image} https://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/2015/11/20/60e34786-c484-49a6-8043-848a0523156c/1eca0dcddb6e9e3cb2f8b8f9a6ce42d7/manufacturing-fake-food-a-620.jpg#

It’s Cow Appreciation Day / Ici #CowAppreciationDay

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Oh, wondrous bovine,
You blessed cow,
Milketh you we
For your cow wine.
 
Taketh we your steaks,
Your roasts,
Your hide.
 
A nice calf’s liver
And veal beside.
 
From your gorgeous eyes,
And your gentle moo,
Dear hoofed creature,
We love you!

Scampi On A Plate Will A Meal Make

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There will be scampi on a plate with breakfast.

Quarts of wild strawberries will float in flagons of cold Rhenish wine.

Blueberries will be hidden by thick cream, and golden honey shall trickle from plates of buttered toast.

Braces of quail and brown roasted turkey will be surrounded by steaming heaps of new potatoes and tender ears of corn.

Joints of beef and lightly curried lamb will stand between bottles of red Anjou wine and jugs of red Italian fire.

A smoking, suckling pig will have bowls of dry, yellow squash at its feet and stacks of cheeses at its head.

Pastry and pies and a foot high chocolate cake will stand among jars of brandied fruit.

A cask of aged port will remain, to do justice at the end.

Then I shall settle back to patiently await my dinner.

(Image)4.bp.blogspot.com/-zZ6ui4BpCgo/UxPh7mmVsoI/AAAAAAAAAtc/wDO5GnUBoak/s1600/IMG_6670.jpg

When Your Meal Watches You Eat

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I was once in a reasonably high-toned Chinese restaurant. Unusually for me, I ordered a fish dish (I usually reserve such for seafood restaurants). I don’t remember why, but I’d guess the description on the menu must have been particularly succulent.

 

The waiter took my order and left. However, he returned within a minute, and I assumed I was going to be told there was none left. It has happened before. However, he leaned closer and, in a low voice, informed me that the fish was served with its head attached. He asked if this would cause me any problems, as some customers had been troubled by the fact and complained. Although I was not used to this method, it was not a problem. I like trying different things. So, away he went.

 

I did seem to have to wait quite awhile, but this doesn’t bother me, either. I enjoy restaurants so much, the experience of the place is as interesting to me as going to a theatre. Thus I have toyed with owning a restaurant, but I do know how much work and headache it really is. So I am just as content to sit and watch.

 

And watch I did when I saw the waiter finally come in my direction. And I had some inkling as to why some previous customers might have felt discomfort.

 

The whole fish (I would say trout-sized if not a bit larger), head and all, was propped upright on a type of wooden trestle in the middle of a platter. The waiter carried it outstretched before him through the restaurant. It was shaped with a bit of a curve, as if swimming upstream. The trestle was on a bed of vegetables. The fish had a light, leafy garnish on it.

 

It was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious. But – yeh – the upright head did seem to stare at me.

Gulled By The Gull – The Smart Bird Strikes

 

seagull-beakI was by the harbour – chilly though it was – standing on one of the wharfs that was still in sunlight.

I had been cautious as I approached the edge, because I did not want to disturb an injured seagull, It was huddled beside a corner post, trying to stay out of the wind. I figured there was enough room for both of us.

The gull did shift its weight from time to time, and seemed to keep its side toward the wind. It was not a sleek-looking bird, and had misaligned feathers on one of its wings. It favoured an odd side-hop when it moved. I wondered what misadventure it might have experienced.

There was little traffic on the harbour, but the sunshine and clear sky made the water a deep and beautiful blue. I was looking out toward the ocean proper when a commotion startled me. My decrepit gull was fast into the air and then, even faster, into the water. Seconds later the bird was back in the air, its beak full of crab.

The gull landed a very safe distance from me. It began to dispatch the crab with fast and furious strikes of its beak. The gull kept the crab on its back as it pecked away at the softer underside. This was no delicate fine dining, as pieces of the crab’s shell flew in various directions, and made sounds as they landed on the surrounding dock. Soon, the only motions the crab made were from the piercing of the gull’s beak.

Considering that I dine – admittedly, with a tad more finesse – upon lobster, I had no problem with the gull acquiring its own meal. It had been earned.

And I will make no more assumptions about the state of gulls by appearance alone.

(image) http://www.cepolina.com/photo/nature/animals/birds/seagull/gull/4/seagull-beak.jpg

It Was NOT The Person From Porlock On The Phone

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My elevator pitch for my current work, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Rocks Were Not So Smooth is “In Xanadu, did Alison Alexandra / a stately pleasure dome decree”. Stolen whole cloth from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his Kubla Khan.

So, I was startled awake this morning by a ringing phone. Just rang once. I have been attempting to write a dialogue between three characters in a pub concerning a dish of poutine. Although I did not exactly leap from my supine position to write the following, it was damn close.

I look upon the incident as a gift from the Backward Gods of writing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from: There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Rocks Were Not So Smooth

“I’ve not had that,” says Bridget. “What is it?”

“A heart stopper.” says Amanda.

“Pretty well,” agrees Alison Alexandra.

“They start with a big effing pile of French fries.”

“Excuse her French,” says Alison Alexandra.

“And then they pile on cheese curds and smother that with gravy.”

“Smother,” agrees Alison Alexandra.

“Then they check your pulse and let you go at it.”

“They don’t really do that,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe not,” says Amanda. “But I bet they have a defibrillator handy.”

“Probably,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Well,” Bridget smiles. “It sounds as if a pitcher of draft will go real good with that.”

 

(image)https: //cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/6uyEgzZ9ByVTIyKBCsu3gSNZaKM=/4×0:996×558/1600×900/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/39119842/wendys-poutine.0.0.jpg

 

Italian Onion Meal From The Liver (Not The Heart) of The Fourteenth Century ~Fegato alla Veneziana

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(photo) https://www.zainoo.com/media/medium/4603.JPEG

As I wend my way through my second Onion novel, China Lily, which is taking too, too, long to put into the computer, I approach page 300. The end is in sight.

My intent was to write a trilogy that followed a Fourth Century Italian farm family, as it developed into an International business empire. There was to be 1,000 years between the first and second book, and the third book was to be set in the present day.

I confess, my interest might not be sustained for the third novel.

However, as I soon describe this recipe – and its creation – in detail, I thought it might make someone a nice supper.

Fittingly, this recipe is from Harry’s Bar, in Venice.

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When we visited Venice, we asked the locals where to find the definitive calf’s liver and onions. Everyone said Harry’s Bar, and, after trying it there—and lots of other places—we had to agree. This is Harry’s recipe.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food

serves 6

Ingredients

2 lb. calf’s liver, trimmed and thin membrane peeled off
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 small yellow onions, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. butter
12 bunch parsley, trimmed and chopped

Instructions

Cut liver lengthwise into 4 long pieces, then, using a very sharp knife and pressing the palm of your hand firmly against the meat, slice each piece crosswise into pieces as thin as possible.
Heat 4 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 2 tbsp. oil. When oil is sizzling hot, add liver and cook, in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until brown and crispy on the edges, 3-5 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then add reserved onions and accumulated juices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring and turning liver and onions constantly while shaking skillet over heat. Transfer to a heated serving platter.
Add butter to skillet and scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of skillet as butter melts. Remove skillet from heat and stir in parsley. Spoon butter and parsley over liver and onions. Serve with Grilled Polenta, if you like.
https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Calfs-Liver-and-Onions

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